NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For weeks, Metro Nashville Public School teachers have been begging for more sick leave in case they test positive for COVID-19. The district has now granted that approval, but it comes with a catch - staff must be vaccinated to qualify.
"We’re trying to create the safety and right working conditions for our staff," said Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of Metro Schools, during last week's Board of Education meeting.
First and foremost, every staff MNPS staff member is eligible to work remotely if they have to quarantine. But if they're still too sick to work, in order to qualify for extra sick leave, staff must do the following:
1) Get a board-certified doctor to write a note explaining how the staff member is too sick to work remotely and has tested positive for COVID-19 after getting a test.
2) They have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Battle didn't mince her words, explaining why that was a condition. "If you have chosen not to get the vaccine to significantly reduce the chances of illness from COVID, then it’s not the responsibility of the district to financially compensate you for that decision," she said during the meeting.
There is an exception. If you have documentation from a physician proving you are not a good medical candidate for a vaccine, you can apply to still receive those extra sick days.
But even those approved still have limitations on how they can use the extra leave. It only applies if the employee is sick, not another family member or roommate has tested positive. The maximum stretch of leave is 10 days, each staff member only gets two stretches of leave in a school year and the two periods can't be used back to back. "This should assure that staff are working when possible but also being mindful there are breakthrough cases which can lead to serious illness and we want to be accommodating to that reality," said Battle.
Metro will use federal ESSER funds to pay for all the extra leave.
As for students, they will not be marked absent for quarantining at home, as long as they keep up with their assignments.